Elizabeth Warren’s avowed Native American heritage — which the candidate rarely if ever discusses on the campaign trail — was once touted by embattled Harvard Law School officials who cited her claim as proof of their faculty’s diversity.
Warren’s claim, which surfaced yesterday after a Herald inquiry, put the candidate in an awkward position as campaign aides last night scrambled but failed to produce documents proving her family lineage. Aides said the tales of Warren’s Cherokee and Delaware tribe ancestors have been passed down through family lore.
“Like most Americans, Elizabeth learned of her heritage through conversations with her grandparents, her parents, and her aunts and uncles,” said Warren’s strategist Kyle Sullivan.
The Ivy League law school prominently touted Warren’s Native American background, however, in an effort to bolster their diversity hiring record in the ’90s as the school came under heavy fire for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male.
“Of 71 current Law School professors and assistant professors, 11 are women, five are black, one is Native American and one is Hispanic,” The Harvard Crimson quotes then-Law School spokesman Mike Chmura as saying in a 1996 article. The Crimson added that 83 percent of the Law School’s students believed the number of minority women on staff was inadequate.
“Although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women, Chmura said professor of law Elizabeth Warren is Native American,” the Crimson wrote.
The Crimson noted Warren’s heritage again in 1998 when Lani Guinier became the first black woman tenured at the law school, mentioning that Warren was “the first woman with a minority background to be tenured.”
Lani Guinier? Oof.